Guardians of the Galaxy

I have no allegiance whatsoever to any Marvel Comics titles. (And precious few from DC, for that matter.) My familiarity with the Marvel universe comes almost entirely from their films. And I have a particular soft spot for the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe, in other words, the films they’ve made with their own studio).

gotgSo, for me, this film is a stretch. The craziest backstory I had to deal with so far was Thor and his home of Asgard. Which is pretty crazy. But this thing? It’s just nuts.

It starts simply enough, as a young Peter Quill, distraught over the death of his mother, is abducted by aliens in 1988. Flashforward to today, and he’s a cross between Indiana Jones (minus the education) and Han Solo (minus the effortless cool). He’s almost a man-child, but a fun one (as played by Chris Pratt). Quill has been contracted to steal an orb of untold value. Ordered to get it from him is Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a genetically enhanced alien warrior. Since there’s a price on Quill’s head, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and his sidekick Groot (Vin Diesel) try to capture Quill. (I should point out here that Rocket is a talking racoon, and Groot is a tree-creature with a very limited vocabulary.)

With me so far? Good, because the hands-down best sequence in the film is the four-way fight with Gamora trying to get the orb from Quill, and Rocket and Groot trying to put Quill in a bag. It’s clever and hilarious in all the right ways. Since they’re all pretty equally matched (in guile, if not actual strength), they kind of cancel each other out, and are captured and sent to the Kyln, a space prison. (Yes, I said it. Space Prison!) There they meet Drax, a different kind of alien with a vendetta against Ronan, the bad guy who wants the orb.

There you have it. The Guardians of the Galaxy. Five complete misfits. The performances are all pretty great. (Well, Saldana is only okay.) Really, Groot steals the show. But I have a soft spot for oversized CG creations with Vin Diesel providing the minimalist voice work.

It’s in this film that the bigger picture of the MCU starts to form a little. Since this orb holds one of the Infinity Stones. (Which you may remember from this film. And this one. And this one.)

The final third of the film are the Guardians trying to get the crazy powerful orb from Ronan before he destroys the planet Xandar. (Yet another alien race.)

It’s all well constructed and funny and heartfelt. But it’s also a little too crazy for me to really love it the way I loved The First Avenger, or even The Avengers. When anything is possible, it’s hard to feel like anything can’t be overcome. Steve Rogers just had his smarts, his slightly-super physique and his comrades to save the world. The Avengers just had each other. In this film, there’s all kinds of bizarre alien technology and abilities that appear on-screen when needed. I find that somewhat less interesting.

Not to say it’s not a really good film. It is.

And it also has a scene with Djimon Hounsou I haven’t seen the likes of since Stargate!

Benicio del Toro was in Guardians of the Galaxy with Djimon Hounsou. Djimon Hounsou was in…


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